Toronto Raptors

2010-11 NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (50-32 last season)

Don't let their age fool you, they still have what it takes.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Rajon Rondo

Shooting Guard: Ray Allen

Small Forward: Paul Pierce

Power Forward: Kevin Garnett

Center: Jermaine O’Neal

Key Reserves:

Guard: Delonte West

Forward: Glen Davis

Center: Shaquille O’Neal

The Celtics are coming off a great year in which they made it to the finals and lost in Game 7.  They were a surprise to everyone in the playoffs as the No. 4 seed while most people thought the Cavaliers or Magic would make it. The key for the Celtics is to stay healthy.  Five players are 32 years of age or older (Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and both O’Neals) and limiting minutes will have to be in the works for Doc Rivers.  The second unit will also have to be fired up most nights because they are a very important part to the success of the team.  If the Celtics want to make another run at the championship, the entire squad must be healthy and whole in April.

New York Knicks (29-53 last season)

Amar'e is "The Man", but Felton could be the key to the offensive.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Raymond Felton

Shooting Guard: Wilson Chandler

Small Forward: Danilo Gallinari

Power Forward: Amar’e Stoudemire

Center: Timofey Mozgov

Key Reserves:

Guard: Roger Mason Jr.

Guard-Forward: Kelenna Azubuike

Forward: Anthony Randolph

Ok, so no Lebron James for the Knicks, but they did acquire Amar’e Stoudemire who will have to carry this team on his back.  Look for Stoudemire to put up better numbers than he did in Phoenix.  Some people think he won’t play better because Steve Nash is what made him good, but I don’t believe that at all.  Another key addition is spark plug, Raymond Felton.  Felton knows how to win basketball games and will be an improvement from Chris Duhon.  Things are looking up for the Knicks and if Amar’e can stay healthy and his knees don’t give out on him, I believe the Knicks will make the playoffs.

New Jersey Nets (12-70 last season)

Harris and Lopez could be that one, two punch that lead the Nets to victory.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Devin Harris

Shooting Guard: Anthony Morrow

Small Forward: Travis Outlaw

Power Forward: Troy Murphy

Center: Brook Lopez

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jordan Farmar

Guard-Forward: Terrence Williams

Forward: Derrick Favors

Avery Johnson is looking to turn things around for this young New Jersey team.  They aren’t going to blow you away with their offense, so defense must show up for them to win games.  Brook Lopez and Devin Harris are the most important players on the team and having them healthy all season will sway this group into a possible playoff berth.  The Nets will need an incredible season to reach the playoffs but anything can happen.  Give them another couple years, let Derrick Favors get some seasons under his belt and be ready for a powerful Nets team in the future.

Philadelphia 76ers (27-55 last season)

A star in college now has to learn to take a supporting role.

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jrue Holiday

Shooting Guard: Andre Igoudala

Small Forward: Thaddeus Young

Power Forward: Elton Brand

Center: Spencer Hawes

Key Reserves:

Guard: Evan Turner

Guard: Louis Williams

Forward: Andres Nocioni

The first thing that comes to mind when I look at this starting five is that there isn’t a solidified shooter.  Andre Igoudala is probably their best shooter and he isn’t very reliable from outside.  Either Jason Kapono or Jodie Meeks will need to earn a spot in the rotation and provide for them what Kyle Korver used to.  This is a fairly young team and the faster Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner develop their offensive games, the better the Sixers will be.  Elton Brand is a team chemistry destroyer, and this is why I do not see the 76ers having a great season.

Toronto Raptors (40-42 last season)

Can Bargnani show the fans of Toronto why they drafted him number one?

Projected Starting Five:

Point Guard: Jarrett Jack

Shooting Guard: DeMar DeRozen

Small Forward: Linas Kleiza

Power Forward: Reggie Evans

Center: Andrea Bargnani

Key Reserves:

Guard: Jose Calderon

Guard: Leandro Barbosa

Forward: Amir Johnson

The Raptors had a terrible offseason losing Hedo Turkoglu and Chris Bosh.  Their whole team is mixed up and they will most likely be one of the worst teams in the league.  The only positive feeling I can say about this team is that things can only go up after the season starts.  One of their young players will certainly need to step forward with a larger role.  I see that player to be Andrea Bargnani.  He was a number one overall pick and has a really good skill set.  Also look for the Raptors to possibly pick up a star closer towards the trade deadline thanks to their Bosh trade exception.  


2010-11 NBA Preview-Overview

The NBA season is less than a week away and many are getting excited for what should be a fantastic thrill ride.  I will be posting division previews sporadicly during the course of this week and into the weekend.  Stay tuned for analysis on your favorite team, but for now, here is a division breakdown with projected records and the four important awards handed out at the end of the year.

Eastern Conference

Can New York make the playoffs thanks to Amar'e?

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics (51-31)

New York Knicks (36-46)

New Jersey Nets (32-50)

Philadelphia 76ers (29-53)

Toronto Raptors (25-57)

Central Division

How will the Cavs fare without LeBron?

Chicago Bulls (50-32)

Milwaukee Bucks (47-35)

Indiana Pacers (32-50)

Cleveland Cavaliers (30-52)

Detroit Pistons (29-53)

Southeast Division

Wall and Arenas will be a fun duo to watch!

Miami Heat (61-21)

Orlando Magic (54-28)

Atlanta Hawks (46-36)

Washington Wizards (37-45)

Charlotte Bobcats (36-46)

Western Conference

Northwest Division

Oklahoma City Thunder (52-30)

Portland Trail Blazers (51-31)


Utah Jazz (47-35)

Denver Nuggets (41-41)

Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60)

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers (59-23)

Phoenix Suns (46-36)

Los Angeles Clippers (36-46)

Sacramento Kings (30-52)

Golden State Warriors (28-54)


Southwest Division

How many games will Yao play in?

Dallas Mavericks (51-31)

Houston Rockets (47-35)

San Antonio Spurs (45-37)

Memphis Grizzlies (41-41)

New Orleans Hornets (37-45)


My pick for the NBA Finals is Lakers over Heat in a seven game series.  Here are the awards for the end of the season.

MVP: Kevin Durant

Most Improved Player: Hedo Turkoglu

6th Man: Jamal Crawford

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin

NBA’s Top 10 Free Agents Most Likely to Leave Their Current Teams Next Summer

Melo is likely to join Stoudemire in New York

1. Carmelo Anthony (Unrestricted): At this point it’s more than clear that it’s going to take a miracle for the Denver Nuggets to resign the face of their franchise. Melo has declined to offer any signs of interest in remaining with their ball club. It’s been reported that Anthony is already in the process of selling his estate in Littleton, Colorado. He just recently held his wedding in New York and there have been multiple reports of friends close to Anthony saying he wants to play for the New York Knicks. To back those reports up, Amare Stoudemire upon signing with the Knicks also stated that both Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker are interested in joining him in New York. And on top of all of that Anthony is from the East Coast.

Possible Destinations: New York Knicks & New Jersey Nets

Eva Longoria wants to be "Spiked Out" with Spike Lee himself in New York

2. Tony Parker (Unrestricted): It’s hard to imagine Tony Parker leaving his fellow pals in San Antonio but it seems as though it’s becoming more and more likely. According to Parker’s wife, actress Eva Longoria, Tony wants to play for the New York Knicks. Seems like a great fit for both Tony and Eva as they go about their careers.

Possible Destinations: New York Knicks

3. Jeff Green (Restricted): Don’t sleep on Jeff Green as a free agent next offseason. There may not be too many better fits for Green’s style of play and Oklahoma City already has a nice chemistry, but at the end of the day money talks. Being a restricted free agent will leave the Thunder organization in a tough situation next offseason. Green will receive plenty of interest from around the league, especially if his Thunder team goes onto improve and build upon last season’s success. Thus leaving Green in a great position to consider all options, stay patient, and wait for that one team that’ll overpay him. From there he’ll sign the offer sheet and place the ball on the Thunder’s court.

Possible Destinations: Indiana Pacers, Charlotte Bobcats, Denver Nuggets

4. Troy Murphy (Unrestricted): One year is all it will be in New Jersey for Murphy. After this upcoming season, he’ll take his services elsewhere and most likely he’ll try to become that missing piece to helping a team become one with NBA Finals potential. In doing so, Murphy and his agent can’t expect anywhere near a similar contract as his previous deal but he’ll still get paid nicely.

Possible Destinations: Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, Oklahoma City Thunder

Tayshaun's Most Memorable Moment

5. Tayshaun Prince (Unrestricted): He’ll most likely be moved around next season’s trade deadline but nonetheless Prince’s tenure in Mo-Town has come to an end. The team has been exploring their trade options with their long time small forward for quite some time now. Much like Murphy, Prince most likely will join a playoff team that immediately improves their title chances adding the defensive veteran.

Possible Destinations: Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors,  Utah Jazz

6. Thaddeus Young (Restricted): Unless the 76ers decide to trade Andre Iguodala, expect to see Young go his separate ways. Like Jeff Green, Young is a restricted free agent that still hasn’t reached his prime. He won’t be offered nearly the same amount of money, Green will be offered, but he’ll get enough that Philly will have no interest in matching the offer.

Possible Destinations: Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, Utah Jazz

7. Samuel Dalembert (Unrestricted): Sac-Town is overloaded in the post with tons of young talent: DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson, and Hassan Whiteside. Dalembert will be a very interesting free agent to keep on your radar next offseason. On one hand he’s a very unique talent whose game doesn’t get credited enough due in large part to his horrible contract. He’s 6’11, very long, runs the floor extremely well for his size, and is great shot blocker. But on the other hand, he’s a guy that’s going to demand a lot of money that he won’t deserve in the long run.

Possible Destinations: Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors

Landry will be a wanted man next offseason

8. Carl Landry (Unrestricted): As mentioned above, the Kings are overloaded in the post, the departure of both Dalembert and Landry not only seems very realistic but the best thing for the Kings future. For Landry, he’ll be able to find a home where he’ll be much more effective. He also will have a lot of options to choose from.

Possible Destinations: Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Hornets, Indiana Pacers, Denver Nuggets

9. Andrei Kirilenko (Unrestricted): After next year in Utah, gone are the days of not knowing when or for how long Kirlenko will be healthy. He’ll be a mystery man come free agency not knowing if he’s healthy, how many year’s he’s got left in him, and most importantly how much he’s even worth.

Possible Destinations: Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Hornets, Boston Celtics

Redd's definitely worth a gamble next season for the veteran's minimum

10. Michael Redd (Unrestricted): The Michael Redd era in Milwaukee has come to an end. After suffering multiple knee injuries over the course of the past few years, Redd has been nearly nonexistent on the floor and remains nonexistent as the Bucks move towards the future. Next season, if and when Redd returns back healthy, he’ll need to show the league he’s still got something left to offer off the bench. But there’s no doubt that a team will give him a chance for the right price next offseason.

Possible Destinations: Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks

Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 A Trade-Away From Being A Good Player Team

Find him consistent minutes & he too will become consistent

PG: Jerryd Bayless, Portland Trail Blazers

If there’s one player in the league that I know best regarding game play and ablities (outside of the Milwaukee Bucks players) it’s Jerryd Bayless. He’s one of the hardest working players in the NBA and staying committed to improving upon his game has been a habit since childhood. Having grown up in Arizona playing against Bayless and seeing his progression into an NBA lottery pick, it’s very hard to watch him getting limited minutes in Portland. Not only has Bayless never really fit into Portland’s plans but with the recent draft selections in Elliot Williams and Armon Johnson, it looks as though there’s no hope in seeing Bayless get significant floor time. A good NBA comparison to Bayless would be Golden State’s Monta Ellis, Bayless is great off the dribble, has tremendous lift of his pull-up, and can get to the basket. Reasons he doesn’t see the floor include not finishing when he gets to the basket, not a true point guard and he’s an undersized combo-guard. Systems that’d Bayless could really be beneficiary in include teams such as the New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns. Any team that has any interest in going up-tempo should consider trying to deal for Bayless, let him for once show you what he can do. That opportunity in finding consistent minutes night in and night out has never been awarded to him.

Gilbert Arenas + John Wall = Not a Good Fit nor Opportunity for Hinrich

SG: Kirk Hinrich, Washington Wizards

So you may be thinking, didn’t Hinrich just get traded? Well yes, but no. Hinrich once again is in a situation where he’ll be forced to play tandem guard off the bench with John Wall and Gilbert Arenas. While Hinrich has no problems defending most shooting guards in the league, it kills his potential playing a swingman position on the offensive end of the floor. Hinrich must find a situation where he can once again become a starting point guard. A few teams that stand out as good fits for both Hinrich and the team would be the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and if they weren’t so caught up in bad point guard contracts, I’d also include the Toronto Raptors.

Potentially "The Next Rashard Lewis"

SF: Earl Clark, Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns organizations have struggled in the player development department ever since the signing of Mike D’Antoni. When the Suns hired Alvin Gentry to takeover as head coach, player development improved slightly but they still struggle to find their young talent some minutes in the rotation. While I understand with the emergence of Jared Dudley’s play off the bench backing aging veteran Grant Hill made it difficult to find the rookie forward out of Louisville some time, he wasn’t given enough time to even be fully evaluated in NBA game situations. For the sake of the Suns future, I’d encourage them to give a better effort in finding time for Clark as they did with Goran Dragic. Slowly it looks as though the Dragic experiment is about to pay huge dividends as a young guard they can lean on moving forward into the coming years and truthfully Clark, if given the right opportunity, could give them the same type of feeling. Not only is Clark a perfect small forward in the Suns system, but he’s got the perfect size, strength, and abilities to become the next Rashard Lewis. Both Clark and Lewis stand at an even 6-10 with Clark just 5 pound lighter than the proven, veteran sharp shooter. Due to lack of minutes and a small window of opportunity, Clark happened to be of quietest lottery pick rookies last season.

"Play Me or Trade Me"

PF: Brandon Bass, Orlando Magic

One of the more shocking developments of the 2009-2010 NBA regular season was the lack of playing time Brandon Bass received as a first-year member of the Orlando Magic. After signing a 4 year, $18 million dollar contract with Orlando, it was assumed he be a prime time factor off their bench, but Bass never seemed to be even close to part of Stan Van Gundy’s game plans. I can’t help but think of Bass’s few years with Dallas leading up to his signing with the Magic and how big of a role he played in games off the Mavericks bench. I can only scratch my head and wonder why on earth he wasn’t given a chance. Bass’s game is one that team’s interested must proceed with caution due to his playing ability and it looks as though Orlando doesn’t see him being a piece to the puzzle. Despite his considerably large contract for his type of talent, Bass potentially is a diamond-in-the-rough trading piece for other team’s should consider dealing for.

DeAndre Jordan Can Do Move of This

C: DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers

Jordan is the only player that’s included in both Part 1 and Part 2 of my 7-Part Blog Series and that’s something worth noting. Considering the idea of him being traded to another franchise scares me because he has the size and the raw talent to be on the absolute verge of breaking out. Best fits for Jordan must be teams that already have an established big man or superstar type talent that he can compliment nicely. Teams he could become a border-line All-Star with include the San Antonio Spurs, Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Utah Jazz, and probably the scariest destination would be the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This is Part 2 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 2 that’s coming soon! In the mean timefollow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.

A 2-7 Off Suit, Grading the NBA’s 4-Team Deal

By: Ross Geiger

Larry Bird plays his hand right yesterday

It’s commonly known that the hand of a 2-7 off suit is the worst hand in poker, but yesterday that hand flopped the NBA a very interesting day of trading. Two different trades involving seven players occurred between six different franchises. The team, which held the worst hand in poker, was Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers, but after the flop, a turn, and the river, Pacers General Manager Larry Legend won the pot. Here’s the breakdown from the Winners to the Losers.

The Winners:

Indiana Pacers: Last year the Pacers nearly dealt Troy Murphy to the Milwaukee Bucks in deal that would’ve sent them Ersan Ilayasova. Well what a difference a little patience can do to improve your franchise. While it was never clear whether or not the Pacers would be able to find any takers for Troy Murphy and his large expiring contract, they were able to score big time by being involved in this 4-way swap. Murphy departed to New Jersey while the Pacers received Darren Collison and James Posey from the Hornets.

The Future of Indiana Pacers Basketball

Talk about an upgrade, Darren Collison? Are you kidding me, the Pacers were ultimately handed a gem of point guard who’s now in a great spot in Indy. Not only will he be given the reigns from day one but he’ll become a cornerstone piece of the Pacers future. The Pacers franchise now has that point guard they’ve been missing, a guy they can grow and develop with. I commend Bird for being able to pull of this move; this undoubtedly will make up for many of his head-scratching draft picks in year’s past.

New Jersey Nets: Don’t get me wrong, Courtney Lee is a very good role player and will be one for many years to come, but he’s a very expendable player if the right deal comes around. As the Nets continue to focus on the future after striking out in the LeBron sweepstakes, this was a deal that makes a lot of sense. Not only did they acquire Troy Murphy and his near $12 million dollar contract coming off the books next season, they also made room to play Terrence Williams. As I mentioned in my recent post on Most Improved Players next season, Williams was a guy that has tremendously improved. Clearly, the Nets saw that (as did I) during his summer league play and made trading away Lee a no-brainer. Now Williams will be given an opportunity to start at the shooting guard position and he should flourish there.

The Losers:

New Orleans Hornets: They traded away James Posey and his horrendous contract, but they not only brought in another bad contract, they traded away one of their top young pieces. Let’s remember folks, Chris Paul may have said he’d like to remain a Hornet after his sit down meetings with the franchise, but there’s no guarantee he’ll stay. And if Trevor Ariza is the Hornets way of proving to Paul that they’re focused on winning, that’s a complete joke. In fact, Ariza even being considered a go-to player is a complete joke, Ariza’s one of the most overrated players in the game. He proved nothing being “the man” last year in Houston and there’s always a reason Rockets General Manager Darryl Morey does trades. He’s one of the wisest men in the business. In the end, I see the Hornets not only losing out in this deal but I also feel Ariza isn’t quite the convincing piece Paul was looking to add to his Hornets roster.

Ariza needs Kobe to pick him & his game up again

Houston Rockets: On one hand the Houston Rockets didn’t lose, they were able to trade-away their contract mistake in Trevor Ariza, but on the other, how is Courtney Lee going to help this team. Lee is very strong defensively and definitely helps out from that aspect but they now need an increased scoring role from Kevin Martin. With that being said an increased scoring role for Martin means staying healthy, which is always a difficult task. The Rockets might possibly be the most interesting team in the league outside of the mess in Toronto next season. Houston’s a team with a bunch of solid role players and if the can gel as one, they have the potential to be above average in the West. It’ll be interesting to see how Lee factors into their game plan next season.
The Other Deal:

Hornets were working hard on the phone lines yesterday also agreeing upon a deal that will send Julian Wright to the Raptors for Marco Bellinelli. My quick insight on this deal is that it may be a small, non-affecting deal, but it provides great opportunities for both parties involved. Wright needed a change of scenery and will get that as a member of the Toronto Raptors. For the well-traveled Bellinelli, he’ll be playing next to one of the best (if not the best) point guards in the business. Marco will be spoon fed plenty of wide-open three point attempts next season. If he fails to connect from long-range, this could be his final appearance in the NBA. Good, small gamble by both teams.

Did You Know Julian Wright Has His Own Southwest Airlines Commercial?

Planet Orange Shining Bright With New Acquisitions

By: James Sargent

Last season was quite a success for the Phoenix Suns as they reached the Western Conference Finals when every NBA source  had them making the playoffs as a 6-8 seed and not going further than the first round.  Now, I am here to tell you that the Phoenix Suns can exceed last season and possibly knock off the Lakers.  The loss of Amare Stoudemire, in my opinion, will be quite a hurdle to overcome, but the players that were added will make the Suns a better team.

Amare is gone, like Lebron, but at least he said thank you.

Amare Stoudemire is a great player and I loved watching him mature in his tenure with the Suns, but he had a couple of flaws he brought to the team.

One, he has injury issues that have to always be in the back of your mind.  I understand he came back successfully from micro-fracture knee surgery and major eye surgery, but at any time he could go down due to the effects from these injuries or new ones that could arise.  Major injuries can have lingering effects and pop up at any time when you least except it.  Heck, at any point, Steve Nash’s career could be over with one unlucky back injury.  Injury-ridden players are always something you have to watch out for.

Two, his rebounding is very questionable.  You never know when he is going to show up and grab 12 boards or five boards in a game.  His lack of enthusiasm and hustle are also big reasons to when he decides to play his hardest.   Last season in the playoffs, he averaged 6.6 rebounds.  C’mon, man!  You are a 6’10” power forward and one of the most athletic players in the NBA!  There is no reason you shouldn’t be pulling down nine or less rebounds a game.

Three, and this is similar to the one above, his defense is very poor.  Again, he is athletic enough to be a defensive presence, but he doesn’t always give it his all in every game.  Every once in a while he will have a good defensive game and record a couple blocks, but most of the time he is terrible.  Maybe New York will bring out the best of Amare.

Now we get to move on to the additions that the Suns made.  Several days after LeBron James shocked the basketball world with his decision to join the Miami Heat alongside Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, the Suns made a quiet but interesting move by signing the lanky yet versatile forward Hakim Warrick.  Then, a few days after that, the Suns landed Josh Childress and Hedo Turkoglu in separate deals.

I believe the last afro the Suns had was young Shawn Marion's.

The only price the Suns pay for these acquisitions is the loss of guard, Leandro Barbosa, who was sent to Toronto for Turkoglu.  I am happy Barbosa is gone.  He was starting to lose his off-the-bench heroics and he took way too many shots.  He had some great seasons for Phoenix, but after the injury he suffered last year, he just did not come back the same.

Josh Childress is a great pickup for the team.  He provides stability in the small forward spot, which is currently occupied by the aging Grant Hill.  Childress, who spent his last two seasons playing overseas for the Olympiacos in Greece, will also help tremendously on defense.  He can lessen the burdens of Jason Richardson in guarding the tough opposing guards in the league such as the likes of Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade.  Childress ultimately will bring to the team what Shawn Marion brought in his days here, just not as frequent.  Childress is a poor man’s Shawn Marion and I am going to stick by that comment until I am proven wrong.

Hedo Turkoglu, on the other hand, is set to face enormous amounts of pressure as he takes over the slot vacated by Amare.  The Turkish sensation, who had a dismal season with the Toronto Raptors, will give the Suns more firepower and provide clutch plays for the team.  He will also lessen the load of Steve Nash because he is a very good ball handler and great court vision.  His only downside is his suspect defense.  He will have to guard the more powerful and stronger power forwards and this could pose problems.

With this being said, I believe the Suns will be a much more talented team.  The starting lineup will include Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu and Robin Lopez.  The bench, or “Second Unit”, will feature Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, Josh Childress, Hakim Warrick and Channing Frye.  The Suns could even go as deep as playing Earl Clark or rookie Gani Lawal if they make great improvements.  Anyways, I am very excited for this team next season, and the loss of Amare could turn out just fine.

The verdict: The Suns will exceed expectations once again and make it to the Western Conference Finals for the second straight year.  Can the new look Suns test the Lakers in a seven game series?  Next year we will find out.

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 3.0

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall, Kentucky

Oh how a year changes things.

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. New Jersey Nets- Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

6. Golden State Warriors- Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

7. Detroit Pistons- Ed Davis, North Carolina

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

9. Utah Jazz- Luke Babbit, Nevada

10. Indiana Pacers- Greg Monroe, Georgetown

11. New Orleans Hornets- Gordon Hayward, Butler

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George, Fresno State

13. Toronto Raptors- Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Patrick Patterson, Kentucky

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Xavier Henry, Kansas

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati

17. Chicago Bulls- Avery Bradley, Texas

18. Oklahoma City Thunder- Damian James, Texas

19. Boston Celtics- James Anderson, Oklahoma State

20. San Antonio Spurs- Craig Brackens, Iowa State

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Kevin Seraphin, France

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Larry Sanders, VCU

24. Atlanta Hawks- Solomon Alabi, Florida State

Kentucky is well represented in the 1st round.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton, Kentucky

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Elliot Williams, Memphis

27. New Jersey Nets- Jordan Crawford, Xavier

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Dominique Jones, South Florida

29. Orlando Magic- Devin Ebanks, West Virginia

30. Washington Wizards- Quincy Pondexter, Washington

31. New Jersey Nets- Keith “Tiny” Gallon, Oklahoma

32. Miami Heat- Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech

33. Sacramento Kings- Ryan Richards, England

34. Portland Trail Blazers- Stanley Robinson, UConn

35. Washington Wizards- Willie Warren, Oklahoma

36. Detroit Pistons- Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky

37. Milwaukee Bucks- Jarvis Varnado, Mississppi State

38. New York Knicks- Terrico White, Mississppi

39. New York Knicks- Trevor Booker, Clemson

40. Indiana Pacers- Da’Sean Butler, West Virginia

Butler was the heart of WVU, and he now goes to the city where Butler University plays ball. Coincidence??? Yes.

41. Miami Heat- Armon Johnson, Nevada

42. Miami Heat- Dexter Pittman, Texas

43. Los Angeles Lakers- Greivis Vasquez, Maryland

44. Milwaukee Bucks- Samardo Samuels, Louisville

45. Minnesota Timberwolves- Nemanja Bjelica, Serbia

46. Phoenix Suns- Thomas Heurtel- France

47. Milwaukee Bucks- Dwyane Collins, Miami

48. Miami Heat- Tibor Pleiss, Germany

Radford is also represented...

49. San Antonio Spurs- Art Parakhouski, Radford

50. Dallas Mavericks- Latavious Williams, USA (D-League)

51. Oklahoma City Thunder- Derrick Caracter, UTEP

52. Boston Celtics- Manny Harris, Michigan

53. Atlanta Hawks- Sylven Landesberg, Virginia

54. Los Angeles Clippers- Sherron Collins, Kansas

55. Utah Jazz- Jon Scheyer, Duke

56. Minnesota Timberwolves- Artem Zabelin, Russia

Looks like Kahn is going to steal Zabelin from Prokorhov

57. Indiana Pacers- Ben Uzoh, Tulsa

58. Los Angeles Lakers- Alexey Shved, Russia

59. Orlando Magic- Mikhail Torrance, Alabama

60. Phoenix Suns- Lazar Hayward, Marquette

Hey, Phoenix! DRAFT ME!!!!!!!!

Ross Geiger’s NBA Mock Draft 2.0

With the 2010 NBA Draft  just 2 weeks away, I give you my updated NBA Mock Draft 2.0. A lot has changed since my first mock draft: NBA Draft Combine was held, team scheduled workouts are underway, and player evaluations have improved. For the past two weeks, I’ve been staying up on my research of the top prospects: from their completed workouts, interested teams, to all the rumors. From everything I’ve compiled through the web, daily newspapers, magazines, and of course my own sources here’s how I feel this year’s NBA Draft will shakedown if the draft were to be held tomorrow. Enjoy!

1. Wizards- This pick is going nowhere, John Wall will be a Washington Wizard next season, I can assure you that.

Selection: John Wall, Kentucky

2. 76ers- As I mentioned in my mock draft, the 76ers aren’t 100% certain they’ll hold onto this pick. There’s definitely a possibility that the #2 pick could be sent away if I the trading partner is willing to take on Elton Brand and his long-term contract. Unless Brand is included in a deal, I see Philly keeping the pick, don’t see them involving Iguodala unless they’ll receive a high 1st round pick in return.

Selection: Evan Turner, Ohio State

3. Nets- There has been some outside interest from around the league regarding their 3rd pick in this year’s draft but as of now don’t expect any deals involving the pick to happen.

Selection:  Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech

That's Right DeMarcus, you're draft stock is rising

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Minnesota is all but satisfied with this pick and are exploring their options on moving up as well as out of the draft with their fourth pick. With two other first round picks in this year’s draft, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get rid of the 4th pick if the right deal was on the table. The fourth pick is definitely available to all teams, if the price is right. If they don’t move the pick, I now see the Timberwolves selecting DeMarcus Cousins here at #3. Many would scratch their head to where exactly he fits in, but let’s not forget the Wolves kept surprising us last year, stocking up with point guards in each of their three first-round picks. They shipped off one of them in Ty Lawson and I see the selection of Cousins allowing them to ship off either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson (the more likely to be moved).

Selection: DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky

5. Sacramento Kings- Each year it seems like nobody has a clue what the Kings organization has up their sleeve on draft night and once again the NBA world is kept pondering their options here. What I can tell you is that the Sacramento Kings have no interest in trading this pick. The question that remains unknown is whether or not they’d select Greg Monroe over DeMarcus Cousins. While Cousins is regarded as the player with most potential, Monroe is the safe pick who reminds Sac-Town of a young Chris Webber. I see Sacramento not rolling any dice and taking the safe pick with Monroe.

Selection: Greg Monroe, Georgetown

A sign & trade deal could point Wesley Johnson in a different direction come July

6. Golden State Warriors- If Wesley Johnson falls to the Warriors here at #6, there’s no chance they’ll pass him up. But I’m going to throw you a Oakland-like Zito curve ball to ponder, could the Phoenix Suns do a sign-and-trade Amare Stoudemire to Golden State in exchange for Wesley Johnson. No truth behind this happening, but I like the proposition. Amare gets his max contract with a good fit in Golden State, while the Suns get a nice piece to move towards the future with, just saying.

Selection: Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

7. Detroit Pistons- While the Pistons have been reportedly aggressively trying to move up into the 4-5 range, I just don’t see it happening unless they strike a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what the Pistons would be willing to offer and what the Timberwolves would be willing to accept but I’d say Rodney Stuckey and/or Tayshaun Prince would be included in any deal. If Detroit doesn’t deal, expect them to take Al-Farouq Aminu. He’s a young, up and coming small forward that allows them to continue to shop Tayshaun Prince who they’re more than willing to get off their hands.

Selection: Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest

8. Los Angeles Clippers-Lots of hype around the Web say the Clippers are hot on Gordon Haywood and that isn’t a surprise to me. He’s versatile, he’s a winner, and could pan out to be a great pick, even here as high as eight. I find their interest in Hayward comical because I see a lot of Mike Dunleavy in Gordon Hayward as an NBA prospect. Hayward will definitely be mentioned inside the Clippers draft room when on the clock but in the end I see them passing on him and going with Xavier Henry instead.

Selection: Xavier Henry, Kansas

9. Utah Jazz- ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote that the Utah Jazz have been high on Luke Babbit longer than most and they’ve continue to remain high on his potential. But do I really see them using their 9th pick on Babbit? Absolutely not, maybe this is just my own bias here, being that I’m not high on Babbitt as a top ten pick, but I see the Jazz going power forward. They know they’re losing Carlos Boozer this summer so why not go with a power forward with high potential to back-up the new starting power forward in Utah, Paul Millsap? I see Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz taking none other than Ed Davis as big with a high potential and basketball intellect.

Selection: Ed Davis, North Carolina

10. Indiana Pacers- Maybe the scenario is too perfect but if Gordon Hayward is still on the board, we all know the talk will be how in the world could Indiana pass up on him? I see them buying into the idea of selecting him for a variety of reasons. Not only will he help sell seats and be a great fit building toward the future, but it gives the Pacers the ability to unload Danny Granger. I remain high on the idea that the Timberwolves will strike out in snagging restricted free agent Rudy Gay and will elect to trade for Danny Granger. Pacers then get either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson in return which replaces departing free agent Troy Murphy (after next year) and they’re future finally gets on the right track.

Selection: Gordon Hayward, Butler

N.O. could be a perfect fit especially as Whiteside draws the Tyson Chandler comparisons

11. New Orleans Hornets- The Hornets could go any direction outside of drafting a point guard at the eleventh position. But of all their immediate needs, I see them selecting a center with this pick. With Okafor everything but impressive in his first season with the Hornets, it’d be wise that they take the opportunity to draft a big man to develop. If there was a time to do it, the time is now. This year’s draft at pick #11 offers a variety of attractive centers that could potentially blossom into stars. The three top candidates for this pick if they decide to look inside would be Cole Aldrich, Hassan Whiteside, and Daniel Orton. Though it’s pretty clear that Aldrich is the most NBA-ready center to step right in to contribute I see the Hornets drafting on overall potential and athleticism. With that being said, I see New Orleans taking Hassan Whiteside, a prospect often compared to Tyson Chandler type player around the basket. Last time I checked, Chris Paul played pretty well with the real Tyson Chandler, maybe Whiteside can tandem to do much of the same down the road. But there is some definite concern, it has been reported that Hassan Whiteside and Daniel Orton both got schooled recently by Rockets center (& former Hornet draftee) Hilton Armstrong, take it for what it’s worth. I know that hearing that kind of concerns me, but I’m still a buyer on Whiteside’s potential.

Selection: Hassan Whiteside, Marshall

12. Memphis Grizzlies- I don’t hear much drift out of the Memphis Grizzlies camp but credible sources around the league have said that the Grizzlies are set on selecting Luke Babbitt if he happens to fall into their hands at twelve. Personally, I don’t like the pick nor Babbitt as an NBA prospect, but this is the same team that drafted Hasheem Thabeet 2nd overall last year.

Selection: Luke Babbitt, Nevada

How is he not a perfect fit in Toronto if he falls to them at #13? Can he play for the Maple Leafs too?

13. Toronto Raptors- With Chris Bosh departing, drafting a power forward is a must for the Toronto Raptors this year.  Or do they? Last year Toronto signed their former first pick Andrea Bargnani to a 5 year, $50 million dollar extension. If Cole Aldrich is still on the board, I see them picking him in a heartbeat; they’d not only select the most NBA-ready talent, but add toughness at the center position. This selection is also key in allowing Bargnani to move over to the starting power forward position. Obviously losing Bosh will be a huge loss, but having the ability to take Aldrich with the 13th pick should help Raptor fans restore some sort of optimism looking towards the future.

Selection: Cole Aldrich, Kansas

14. Houston Rockets- Even after acquiring Jordan Hill near the deadline last season, the Rockets need to invest in drafting another power forward to turn too next year. I see their man being Ekpe Udoh at #14. Udoh bring the long, defensive minded power forward they’d love to have down low. Never underestimate Rockets GM Darryl Morey and his “numbers” system, Udoh might solve his math problem with what to do at the 14th pick.

Selection: Ekpe Udoh, Baylor

15. Milwaukee Bucks- If all goes as planned in this mock draft, the Bucks are left scratching their heads on what to do here with this pick. All of their favorite prospects have been taken, not one of them has slid down to them at the midway point of the draft. Even I, as someone who covers the Milwaukee Bucks am left confused on what to do here with Ed Davis, Hassan Whiteside, and Xavier Henry off the board. So I see them taking the best available player which at this point is easily Paul George. While George is labeled a small forward, I think the Bucks would experiment with placing George at the shooting guard position since it’s such a slight change as far as the Milwaukee Bucks offense is concerned. George could very well end up being a blessing in disguise for the Brew City, could it be two straight years of successful draft picks for the Milwaukee Bucks?! We’ll have to wait and see….

Selection: Paul George, Fresno State

Ross Geiger’s 2010 NBA Mock Draft

2010 NBA Mock Draft (1 Month before Draft Day)

Wall definitely holds all the "Wizardry" that's needed to become a star in the NBA

1. Washington Wizards- John Wall

One of the most hyped up draft picks in recent history, John Wall has a lot challenges awaiting him in D.C., but behind the luck of Mr. Abe Polin’s championship ring Wall is everything the Wizards organization could ever ask for. Skills aside, his marketability alone will help change the face and image of the Wizards’ franchise as it moves forward from their past nightmare of a season. While I feel as though, Wall maybe a little overhyped, my only concern with his development are those influences around him. Being so young is great, but the Wizards must keep a close eye out on Wall, keeping him on his steady path towards being successful. Wall in Washington offers a variety of challenges on and off the basketball court, hopefully he can keep a level head, stay smart, and can continually grow as a professional. With Gilbert Arenas and Josh Howard on board, the smartest thing the Wizards could do is go grab a long-time veteran point guard that can lead Wall by example. A great example of this can be seen with the Chicago Bulls going out and grabbing Lindsay Hunter when the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose, a player Wall is often compared too.

This Year's National Player of the Year

2. Philadelphia 76ers- Evan Turner

It’ll be interesting to see what shakes down next season in Philly. Turner very well could be the key to the 76ers being able to make some trades. Many are already pondering whether or not Turner and Andre Iguodala can coexist together. While I think they can definitely work together I wouldn’t be surprised to see Philly keeping Iguodala out on the trading block. One team that really stands out as a possible trading partner would be the Memphis Grizzlies. If the Grizzlies are unable to resign Rudy Gay, they may be interested in acquiring Iguodala, a player so similar to Gay that it wouldn’t be a completely change in offensive strategies next year in Memphis. The 76ers can’t go wrong with drafting Turner, from his overall potential to the decisions he immediately allows the franchise to make, this great situation for both Turner and the 76ers.

3. New Jersey Nets- Derrick Favors

So what if the New Jersey Nets weren’t rewarded with the first overall pick for their horrendous play last season, this very well could be a blessing in disguise. Drafting Derrick Favors is the best fit for New Jersey anyways. Drafting Wall would’ve led to having to make a tough decision on Devin Harris’s future with the franchise, Favors on the other hand, helps them avoid the unneeded headache. He’ll compliment Brook Lopez very well and gives them a drastic improvement at the power forward position. For Favors there’s not a better situation available, if all goes as planned he should be a starter from jump. He’ll be given plenty of minutes and will have the chance to gain valuable exposure and experience; Nets fans should be looking forward to the progression he’ll make immediately. Looking down the road, I like Yi Jianlian being my sixth man off the bench, a foreigner whose not always consistent but should be much better off not having to deal with as much expectations. Derrick will do both the Nets and Yi a big Favor (pun intended) even as a rookie.

4. Minnesota Timberwolves- Wesley Johnson

With the Timberwolves under the leadership of General Manager David Kahn, you never quite know what to expect on draft night as we all found out this past year. Despite what many mock drafts around the Web suggest, I’m not so sure the Timberwolves take Johnson here. Even before NBA draft workouts, my gut tells me not to count out the Timberwolves selecting DeMarcus Cousins. Whether or not Kahn decides to pull the trigger on Cousins depends on how patient he’s willing to be. Earlier this past season, the Timberwolves and Pacers came extremely close on deal that would’ve sent Al Jefferson to Indiana in exchange for Danny Granger. Cousins is often compared to Al Jefferson in terms of size and abilities. It’s not out of the question that Kahn selects Cousins, then attempts to pull the deal for Granger offering up Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer. This trade would immediately improve both teams, the only road block that may stand in the way is Pacers forward Troy Murphy. But for the Timberwolves, adding Cousins and Granger instantaneously makes them no laughing matter next season. Don’t forget that the sooner the Timberwolves become successful, the sooner Ricky Rubio may decide it’s time make the move over to the join the team. But that’s a lot of speculation on my part and until the draft talk continues to heat up I’ll stand pat with the majority of mock drafts and take Wesley Johnson here at number four.

Whichever team takes Cousins must monitor the amount of times he calls to order pizza

5. Sacramento Kings- DeMarcus Cousins

The last thing the Sacramento Kings need is another young big man, but unfortunately for them, the best players availiable are in face big men. Sac-Town will choose between taking DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe here at five. With the Maloof brothers all to familiar with gambling owning their luxurious Palms hotel in Las Vegas, I got to say they’ll go with Cousins. His definitely the risky selection but I see his overall potential too hard to pass up. As Jason Thompson continues to develop, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to take Greg Monroe here, even when he’s by far the safest pick. You cannot have Thompson coming off your bench, especially now that they have sixth man of the year candidate Carl Landry after the trade with Houston. If Cousins can live up to his potential, stay in shape, and improve his game the it’s scary to envision what Sacramento’s future may have in store with the combination of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins.

6. Golden State Warriors- Greg Monroe

Monroe has arguably has the highest basketball IQ out of all the projected lottery picks. After snagging the very intelligent basketball player in Stephen Curry in last year’s draft, it makes perfect sense to put Monroe alongside their future point guard. The two would work very well together, having too very young and wise talents inside and outside. If Anthony Randolph can bounce back from injury, the Warriors future big three can consist of Curry, Randolph, and Monroe.

7. Detroit Pistons- Cole Aldrich

The Pistons desperately need a big man and Cole Adrich is the next best option left on the board once Cousins and Monroe are off the board. A good shot blocker, Aldrich can continue to help Detroit basketball have a strong defensive presence down low. This year the Pistons went with Ben Wallace as their starting center and Big Ben has just never been the same since deciding to leave Detroit to sign with Chicago a few years back. Aldrich is Mo-Town’s new future at the center position.

8. Los Angeles Clippers- Al-Farouq Aminu

Considering that the Clippers traded away Al Thornton, it makes me feel much better predicting them to take Aminu here at number seven. I realize they have Travis Outlaw and I’d fully expect him to fulfill the team’s starting role, but Aminu will be their work in progress. I see Aminu being a instant energy guy coming off the Clipper bench next season and a guy you can count on taking over in the next couple years to go along with Blake Griffin

9. Utah Jazz- Patrick Patterson

With the likely departure of Carlos Boozer, Patterson would be a nice addition to the Jazz young core group of guys. The Jazz main concern will be his ability to knock down the open mid-range jump shots that are very important in the two-man game with Deron Williams. But Patterson’s lack of a NBA ready jumpshot should be the least of Utah’s concerns, he posses a lot of intangibles you just can’t teach. He has soft hands and even more importantly a high basketball IQ, something that will go a long way with Head Coach Jerry Sloan.

The Pacers most likely regret trading away Jerryd Bayles, their 2008 draft pick, Bradley has the same type of game as Bayless

10. Indiana Pacers- Avery Bradley

While Xavier Henry most likely is the best player availiable on the board, they Pacers don’t need another shooting guard, they need somebody to fill the void at the point guard position. Bradley isn’t close to ready to handle the starting duties, but can be immediate spark plug the Pacers are missing. One of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, Avery won’t help them improve in that department but in the NBA if you cannot play defense, you can always try to out score opponents. Avery has a knack for putting the ball in the basket and can contribute some points off the bench.

11. New Orleans Hornets- Xavier Henry

The New Orleans Hornets had a very successful draft night last year, adding Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton both whom raised eyebrows throughout the league with their rookie season performances. Henry is a deadly shooter who can do all the things Morris Peterson isn’t able to do anymore. This young prospect has the size and strength to play both the shooting guard and the small forward position which is extremely valuable to the Hornets. Next season they’ll look to play point guards Paul and Collison at the same time and being able to place Henry in that small forward can help both of the Hornets’ penetrating point guards tally up some assists with his perimeter game.

12. Memphis Grizzlies- Paul George

The issue isn’t whether or not Rudy Gay decides to stay because George will be a work in progress throughout his entire rookie season. But his upside is worthy of being selected at number 12. He’s long, athletic, and has a quick release on his shot. If selected by the Grizzlies, he may find a few spots minutes to prove his rookie worth but don’t expect to see him out on the floor much more than Suns fans saw Earl Clark this season.

13. Toronto Raptors- Donatas Motiejunas

With Chris Bosh leaving soon, the Raptors definitely need to add a big man here. Though Ed Davis and Ekpe Udoh remain on the board, I see Bryan Colangelo intrigued by the Motiejunas who has all the potential to make him a steal at pick 13. Always the biggest concern with young international players is whether or not they’ll be able to fully transition their games to the NBA style of play. In Toronto, Motiejunas has best chance to transition his game moderately fast with a team consisting of many international sensations with the likes of Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli, and Andrea Bargnani (the player Motiejunas is often compared to).

Whiteside's Size & Length is Unmatched

14. Houston Rockets- Hassan Whiteside

Unfortunately it looks as though my favorite draft prospect won’t be available when it comes time for the Milwaukee Bucks to be on the clock. The Houston Rockets would get a steal here if Whiteside happens to fall into their laps at 14. I start salivating just hearing the comparisons of Whiteside being a young, raw talent that is comparable to Marcus Camby. He would be a good fit in Houston due in large part that he won’t be expected to contribute much his rookie season. So if you’re an NBA fan looking to catch a glimpse of Whiteside, get to the game when the gates open up one and half hours before game time, you can be sure he’ll be putting in a lot of work in pregame workouts. If Whiteside pans out to be just 70% of the player he has the potential to become, this selection will be well worth it.

15. Milwaukee Bucks- Ed Davis

While I’d love to see Bucks General Manager John Hammond and the Bucks attempt to trade up for the rights to Hassan Whiteside, I see them ultimately sticking with their pick here at 15. That pick is looking like it’ll be Ed Davis, the power forward out of North Carolina. My favorite description of Davis can be seen on where these words fall under his strengths section: “live” legs, high motor, excellent touch, and tremendous footwork for his age. Then one last description on Davis drops louder than a bomb in the eyes of anybody who understand the Milwaukee Bucks team mentality: He “does not have a superstar attitude, he has a workman’s approach to the game that is refreshing to see.” The Bucks will love every bit of that characteristic, the thought of developing two gym rats in Brandon Jennings at point and Ed Davis down low could definitely be something to look forward to in the future.

16. Minnesota Timberwolves- Ekpe Udoh

Udoh can help add to the Timberwolves strength down low. He’s a tremendous shot blocker and should end being more of a defensive minded player in the NBA. Udoh could learn a lot practicing with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson on a daily basis.

Anderson's Stroke is a Thing of Beauty from the Outside

17. Chicago Bulls- James Anderson

Could end up being of the better steals in the draft if he does slide past the lottery picks. Anderson brings the outside shooting presence that the Bulls lacked all season long from the perimeter. Don’t sleep on the Big 12 player of the year who averaged 22.3 points last season, he offers a lot of upside, and would fit in nicely in Chicago.

18. Miami Heat- Damion James

Considering that Heat only have five players under contract next season, the possibilities at this pick are endless. The Heat’s hope is to sign a big name PF/C and hope to also persuade Dwyane Wade to remain with them as well. So I’d see the Heat looking to add a small forward with high energy. Big 12 Conference’s all time leading rebounder fits the profile and is one of the more athletically gifted talents available in this draft. The Heat wouldn’t go wrong with taking James here at 18, even when many NBA analysts may find this a little too high for James.

19. Boston Celtics- Larry Sanders

Who knows how many more seasons Kevin Garnett’s knees can handle. Sanders is a very late bloomer who never played organized basketball until the 10th grade. A very strong defensive player, Sanders could learn a lot from of the best defensive power forwards in the business in Garnett. He has a lot of room for growth and could end becoming a very solid player in this league.

Hayward may rock a very similar black and silver jersey soon in San Antonio

20. San Antonio Spurs- Gordon Hayward

Though I must say it’s hard picturing Hayward in a Spurs uniform, I think he’d be a nice pick here at 20 for the Spurs. He provide a little bit of everything and could potentially be a huge boost of the Spurs bench. With Richard Jefferson, all but impressive after his first year with the Spurs, Hayward might find a fair amount of time to play. If I’m Gregg Popovich, I love having to young talents in Hayward and DeJuan Blair to turn too off the bench.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder- Luke Babbitt

We’ll just have to wait and see how Babbitt’s future pans out in the NBA but if it’s anything like it’s projected to be, the Thunder have find another great piece that fits with their future. Babbitt at 6’9 is a lethal shooter with the ability to play both the small forward and power forward positions. For his own sake, he better prepare to play the power forward position with Kevin Durant occupying the majoring of the small forward minutes. Realistically, if Babbit lands in Oklahoma City I see him being a bonafide sixth man that could potentially be a sixth man award candidate down the road.

22. Portland Trail Blazers- Kevin Seraphin

It’d be silly for Portland to even consider any prospect outside of the power forward and center positions. With their luck with injuries, they could always improve their support system down in the paint. The popular options here are Solomon Alabi and Daniel Orton, but I see Blazers General Manager Kevin Pritchard taking his chances on Kevin Seraphin, the young product out of France. Already having Nicolas Batum on board, Seraphin would have French companion to help aid his adjustment to the NBA if the Blazers decide to bring him over to play next season. Seraphin’s upside is worth the gamble as the first round gets into it’s later selections.

There's No Debate: Stephenson Definitely Has the Size

23. Minnesota Timberwolves- Lance Stephenson

Once again you must pop the question, do you go best player available or do you go immediate needs? I see the Timberwolves opting against taking the best player available (either Orton or Alabi) and rather choosing a shooting guard. Heading into the NBA Draft Combine I would’ve put Elliot Williams ahead of Lance Stephenson in my rankings, but after missing the NBA Draft Combine due to injury, Stephenson jumps him in my book. It was very costly time to get injured and allowing teams to get a look at you in the pivotal pre-draft camp is so important for anyone’s draft stock. But in the long term, Stephenson is the more promising player of the two shooting guards, he’s got an NBA ready body who’s a guy that needed one more year of college to fully blossom. Depending on what happens during free agency, Stephenson may have a outside chance of starting next season for the Timberwolves if they’re willing to endure another long losing season.

24. Atlanta Hawks- Willie Warren

The Hawks have so many questions left unanswered at the shooting guard position, what will all pan out with Joe Johnson? Nobody has the slightest idea but the chances of Atlanta holding onto him looks all but promising. With that being said, they need to look at drafting a shooting guard with this pick. I see Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford becoming the Hawks starting shooting guard next season so he’ll need a backup. Warren has an NBA ready body and has the offensive skills to be a highly productive scorer in the future. He’s a very interesting prospect who was listed as a lottery pick in many mock drafts before last season.

25. Memphis Grizzlies- Daniel Orton

Both Orton and his agent will finally be relieved to know he’ll be coming off the board in the first round after being a guy who fell way past where he’s currently projected to be drafted (in the high teens). This is a great pickup by the Grizzlies here with the 25th pick and Orton hopefully can develop his game having to defend Zach Randolph each day in practice.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder- Armon Johnson

Not very well known, Johnson could very well be a big sleeper in this year’s draft class. He’s quick and crafty which could be the perfect player to back up Russell Westbrook. While Eric Maynor will still find his own opportunities to find minutes at the backup point guard slot, Johnson will give him a run for his money next season.

27. New Jersey Nets- Solomon Alabi

His size alone is very intriguing, but he’s a work in progress. If the Nets are willing to gamble, stay patient then this is a wise pick with Alabi being one of the best available here at 27. If not, expect the Nets to go get a better-known college player like Devin Ebanks.

Wait is that John Wall? No folks, that's the 6'1 Eric Bledsoe

28. Memphis Grizzlies- Eric Bledsoe

He was very much hidden behind the play of John Wall last season with Kentucky and I definitely feel Bledsoe may be one the this year’s best keep late first round secrets. He’s very athletic and has the strength that allows him to absorb contact while finishing around the rim. Nice backup to Mike Conley next season and he could potentially take over Conley’s starting job in the coming years.

29. Orlando Magic- Elliot Williams

This highly explosive young shooting guard needs to improve his perimeter shooting, but has the leaping ability you just can’t teach. A year under the wing of Vince Carter could really benefit Williams during his rookie season and it’s worth the Magic taking him here this late in the first round.

30. Washington Wizards- Gani Lawal

Much like Eric Bledsoe, Lawal was hidden behind Derrick Favors this past year at Georgia Tech. While still raw, Lawal has a lot of potential to become solid down the road. Wizards need some help in the frontcourt and Lawal is the best available.

4/27/10 NBA Playoffs Predictions

Miami Heat at Boston Celtics- 7 ET- NBATV

Expect a big night from "The Truth"

The question isn’t whether or not the Boston Celtics are going to take the series, the real question is whether Dwyane Wade allows the Celtics to take the series in Game 5. Wade single handedly defeated the Celtics in Game 4, avoiding the Celtics sweep. He shot 16-24 from the field, including 5-7 from downtown, which for D-Wade is a very rare occurrence, going off for 46 points in total. If the Celtics get a strong performance out of Paul Pierce inside the TD Garden, Boston will be in great shape.

Quite frankly, this is a must win game from the Celtics if they hope to stand any chance against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 2. The Celtics need as much rest as possible heading into the Quicken Loans Arena from Game 1 of Round 2. The Cavaliers should cap off their series tonight with a win over the Bulls at home, so the Celtics must do the same. It would kill their chances against Cleveland if it just so happens that the Heat upset them with a win tonight forcing the Celtics to travel back down to Miami for Game 6. It would create all that much more trouble and would also give the Cavaliers some time to tune in to watch their second round opponent. Celtics realize this and the importance of finishing up their first round matchup against the Heat tonight at home. As long as the Celtics limit Dwyane Wade to 35 points or less, they’ll win tonight.

Celtics- 97 Heat- 88

Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers- 8 ET- TNT

The final chalk toss of the first round will take place tonight inside the Q

This game is a wrap even before both teams show up to suit up tonight. With Rose battling an injury and LeBron continuing to be LeBron, it’s a no brainer that the Bulls are cooked. But before this series becomes history, the Bulls should be given a lot of praise. Not expected to beat out Toronto for the last and final playoff spot, the Bulls got the job done, clinching the spot behind Derrick Rose’s promise of a playoff berth. After critics (like me) doubted they’d even make the playoffs, the proved critics (like me) wrong again by making Games 1 and 2 in Cleveland competitive enough to watch.

A lot of changes are on the horizon in the Windy City

The Bulls’ charge was led by Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, both of whom really earned some respect in my book for their on court play and leadership. It’ll be interesting to see what transpires this summer within the Bulls organization. From the progress of their core group of guys in Rose, Noah, Deng, and even rookie James Johnson, to dangling Kirk Hinrich yet again as trade bait, then of course comes the firing of head coach Vinny Del Negro and the search for his replacement (Lawrence Frank?) and last but certainly not least which superstar or star(s) decide to sign with Chicago during the most talented free agent class in NBA history. There’s a lot of changes in store for the Chicago Bulls, tonight begins one of them: the offseason.

Cavaliers- 112 Bulls -98

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks- 9:30 ET- NBATV

Think he'll be nervous tonight?

It’s a shame this game isn’t being broadcasted on one of the major networks. Tuning into a Mavericks win or go home game taking place in Dallas is all I need to know to be encouraged to watch it. The reason for that is to obviously get glimpses of the Mavericks’s biggest fan, owner Mark Cuban. Both Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson have poured their heart and soul into building this team into one that was expected to be champion contending team. Facing a 3-1 deficit, the Mavericks are already on the ropes in Round 1 against their arch-rivals.

Will the fat lady sing Shawn?

Out of all the 3-1 matchups taking place tonight, this by far (yes, I said by far) is the best one. After a very disappointing Game 4 loss, Shawn Marion said the series isn’t over until the fat lady sings. While I believe the Mavericks will pull out a big win tonight at home, we’ll really see if that fat lady is just waiting to be heard in San Antonio for Game 6. But tonight, I see the Mavericks stepping their game up and getting the job done. Having picked the Mavericks to go to the NBA Finals this season, it’s very interesting to watch them get tested so early against a very challenging San Antonio team. If the Mavericks prove they can dig themselves out of a trench like this, I see no stopping them. Tonight they’ll live another day and stay safe from a first round exit.

Mavericks- 96 Spurs- 91

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers- 10:30 ET TNT

The Hollywood Stars will be in attendance as always!

With the recent noise the Thunder have been making with their stellar performances in Game 3 and 4 at home, I been receiving a lot of questions regarding whether or not they can take this series. I apologize if I come off sounding like a Thunder hater (if one does exist), but I don’t see the Thunder earning a victory in Los Angeles. Obviously, the most impressive trademark of this Thunder team’s success against the Lakers so far in the series is how young the team is. For many of the same reasons the Thunder and NBA Coach of the Year Scott Brooks deserve kudos for their accomplishments, I also feel are the main reasons they’ll fall short when facing the Lakers in the City of Angels.

credit where it's due

From the Staples Center’s celebrity sightings to Kobe’s confortability and nearly effortless success at home, home court advantage will be the biggest factor in why the Lakers will win the series. But hey, it’s crazy even just thinking about the Lakers possibly losing this series as the #1 seed in the Western Conference, the defending champs, and on top of all of that the Thunder’s unity throughout the entire series. As Kevin Durant continues to receive much of that credit, I once again will be sort of an outkast and come out and say Kevin Durant isn’t the difference maker in the team’s success in the series. Instead I’d argue that it’s been the play and leadership of Russell Westbrook, the team’s floor general. Westbrook currently has dished out a total of 21 assists (5.25 apg) and while that may be well below his season average of 8 apg, so far this series he’s only committed a combined total of 6 turnovers! Westbrook had 11 games this season where he committed at least 6 turnovers alone. Up to this point in his young NBA career, Westbrook has been widely regarded as a point guard thats turnover prone. Since the playoffs, Westbrook has taken much better care of the ball, which clearly leads to more possessions and gives your team a better opportunity to win ball games. Head Coach Phil Jackson must switch up his defense assignments on Westbrook, testing the young guard to make in game adjustments. Personally, I like the idea of assigning Shannon Brown to Russell Westbrook, very similar physique and athletic ability, I think Brown could cause some havoc on defense. But tonight just like Game 1 and Game 2, the Lakers will do a better job executing down the stretch on their home floor. Lakers take Game 5 and prepare for another tough battle back in Oklahoma City.

Lakers- 93 Thunder- 87